A Quick Guide To Mexican Street Food
It’s tough to imagine a place where street food is more deeply engrained in its culinary culture than Mexico City. While the offerings are unquestionably diverse and of course, delicious, the best part is that none of these quick snacks will set you back more than a few pesos. Here, a handy shortlist of the street foods you can’t miss when exploring Mexico City.
Did you know eating insects could be the next big culinary trend? Not only are they a sustainable food source, they’re packed with protein. On the streets, you’ll find them in big bowls, roasted and salted. Eat them alone like chips, in a taco, or as a topping for guacamole. (TIP: if you’re feeling squeamish, try them in summer, when the grasshoppers are smaller and easier to “manage.”)
For these, masa (corn flour) is stuffed with sweet (like pineapple and strawberry) and savory fillings (like mole and salsa) fillings, wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf, and steamed. Unlike in the States, tamales here are often eaten for breakfast. Wash down your morning meal with a cup of atole, a masa-based breakfast beverage sweetened with chocolate or fruit.
Tortillas that aren’t quite fresh enough for tacos (but still totally fine for eating) are flash-fried to a golden crunch. After the transformation, they provide a sturdy foundation for a range of savory toppings, from raw and marinated seafood to cheese.
Tacos Al Pastor
Arguably, this is the most iconic street food in Mexico City. Pork is first marinated in a mixture of chiles and achiote paste, then slowly cooked on a vertical spit. When you place your order, the spicy pork is shaved into thin slices, and piled onto a corn tortilla before getting garnished with chopped onion, cilantro, and pineapple.
Made from pieces of pork skin that have been sliced thin and deep-fried, these popular snacks are ruffly, airy, and crackly. (And depending on the vendor, they can span a few feet.) Though perfectly fine when eaten plain, a few douses of hot sauce not only add welcome salt and heat, but also cuts through the richness of the fat.
Because not all street food has to be savory or heavy. You’ll find little juice stands and carts all over the city, doling out all sorts of refreshing and healthful drinks, from single-fruit juices – orange and grapefruit are ubiquitous – to custom blends. You can even order a custom green juice made with the popular nopal (cactus).
The name draws inspiration from the shape of the popular sandal. Masa is formed into a long, oval shape (like the sole of the sandal), then fried. Extremely versatile, huaraches can be topped with just about anything, from grilled meat to beans and cheese. Consider it a Mexican flatbread.